fbpx Speaker Highlight: Michelle T. Sanchez | CBE

Speaker Highlight: Michelle T. Sanchez

To start, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Michelle T. Sanchez: For the past seven years I have served as the national discipleship leader for the Evangelical Covenant Church denomination—a job I was created to do! Prior to this role I served as a discipleship pastor at a local Covenant church in the Boston area.

Just by virtue of who I am and the ministry I do, God has blessed me with a unique perspective. I’m an ordained female pastor serving as a senior leader of an evangelical institution. I’m also African American and serving in a denomination that has been pioneering racial discipleship ministry for many years.

What all this means is that I’ve had the opportunity to think a lot about discipleship, gender, and race—as well as the intersections of all three. And I do believe that I have wisdom to share.

What do you hope people learn from your keynote, “Color-Courageous Biblical Equality”?

There are two key things that I would love to cover—awareness and courage. First, whether we like it or not, race impacts everything. We need a greater awareness of this. Racial inequity impacts everything, even in communities that have the best of intentions and are already doing very good work in other spheres. This is also true, of course, with feminist movements. In recent years more and more people have come to understand that in both secular and evangelical feminism, women of color have not been adequately represented.

Second, in order to make a difference and move toward racial equity, we need courage! Advancing racial equity is risky for everyone in different ways. So we need to learn to access the courage that our Lord Jesus Christ has given us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

What do you hope people learn from your workshop, “Waking Up Womanist: Centering Galatians 3:28 in Our Discipleship & Ministry”?

Many people think of “womanism” as a niche category with relevance only for some people—namely, Black women. In reality, though, there is profound wisdom that a womanist perspective can offer to the church.

Why is that? Because Black women have typically been the most disadvantaged in our society by nearly every measure. But Jesus says that it is the “poor in spirit” who are blessed, and it is the last who will be first. So, in my opinion, Black women in particular have many riches to offer the larger church. Galatians 3:28 is, for me, a “womanist” Scripture! Here the Apostle Paul names the categories of ethnicity, gender, and class, saying we need to be mindful of all three of these categories and understand their significance—as well as their insignificance, in a way. We need to have that dual kind of awareness in the kingdom of God.

I love CBE’s focus on gender. But there is still a way that a kind of intersectional awareness would be so beneficial for CBE’s mission. Womanist wisdom can help contribute to that.

How has Galatians 3:28 affected your own discipleship and ministry?

I’ll just say this: one of the things I struggled with for many years, and especially in seminary, was wrestling with the Lord about my identity as a low- to middle-class Black female called to work within a predominantly White evangelical church. Sometimes it seemed like the Lord had put me in the wrong body. But in seminary I remember reflecting a lot on Galatians 3:28—I even wrote an entire paper on it. And it brought me so much hope! The Lord knows who I am, and he understands those who tend to be marginalized in each category—race, gender, and class. He sees each one—and he gives great gifts. Galatians 3:28 has encouraged me to not be ashamed of who I am, but to understand I’ve been designed exactly as God intended. He sees all these categories that I am a part of; he understands their implications. And he doesn’t have any intention for them to stop me from offering great riches to the body of Christ.

Final thoughts that you want to share with our readers?

Sure—I am excited about the possibility of seeing more evangelical womanist thought leaders rise up in CBE’s ministry. So come on out to this year’s conference, and let’s get started!

This interview is from "The Fullness of Galatians 3:28," the Summer 2022 issue of Mutuality magazine. Read the full issue here.